The ABCC has commenced Federal Court action in the ACT alleging the CFMMEU and five officials attempted to coerce a Canberra-based civil engineering company to make an enterprise agreement with the CFMMEU.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging the CFMMEU and its officials –– ACT secretary Jason O’Mara; assistant branch secretary Zachary Smith; and organisers Kenneth Miller; Lorenzo White and Joshua Bolitho organised an unlawful picket to coerce the company to make an enterprise agreement with the union.
At the time of the alleged contraventions Dale & Hitchcock Civil Engineering and Landscapes (D&H) was engaged to undertake excavation work on the $300 million Constitution Place project.
In its statement of claim the ABCC is alleging at or around 5.30am on Monday 14 May 2018, a group of between 12 and 20 people, including O’Mara, Miller, Smith, White and Bolitho engaged in obstructive picketing by:
- Parking two cars immediately in front of the main entrance gate to the project site blocking vehicle access and partially blocking pedestrian access to the main entrance gate
- Congregating in a group at the main entrance of the project site and linking arms to block pedestrian and vehicle access
- Placing and securing chains and locks on various gates and gluing locks on other project site gates, including the main truck access gate.
- During the two and a half hour picket, which was attended by the ACT police, picketers engaged in pushing and shoving with workers who were trying to access the site.
- A CFMMEU official told a group of workers who were trying to enter the site “You have to go through me to get in”.
The ABCC is pursuing contraventions of the unlawful picketing, coercion and adverse action provisions in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act).
The maximum penalty per contravention under the BCIIP Act is $210,000 for a body corporate and $42,000 for an individual. The maximum penalty per contravention under the FW Act is $63,000 for a body corporate and $12,600 for an individual.